Help, tips & advice by chicken keepers

Question: My rooster seems to have a preference for one of my 10 hens. His constant mating has caused a bald patch on her back. What can I do to protect her from his amorous attentions?

Julie Moore says: This hen is your rooster’s ‘favourite’. During mating, a rooster stands on a hen’s back, holding her neck feathers with his beak and steadying himself with his feet. This activity, known as treading, can, over time, cause feather loss and damage to the skin, making feather re-growth difficult.

When a chicken is injured in any way, the instinct of other chickens is to peck at the area, resulting in further injury. Generally, injured chickens should be removed from the flock until healed. In this case, the hen could be segregated to allow feather re-growth.

Alternatively, you could cover and protect the bald patch with a hen saddle. A hen saddle is a piece of cloth, generally made from durable waterproof canvas which is strapped to the back of the hen. This allows her to remain with the flock. If you do use a saddle, check under the saddle regularly for external parasites.

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